Social Scientists File Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in High-Profile Affirmative Action Case

On August 13, 2012, a group of social scientists filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a high-profile affirmative action case that challenges the race-conscious admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin (UT). The brief contains research offering a deeper understanding of how a diverse educational environment benefits all students and society as a whole. It also cites studies showing that race-conscious admissions policies like that used by UT result in a more diverse student body, which is essential to produce leaders able to compete in the 21st century global marketplace. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the Equal Justice Society, and the Haas Diversity Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote the brief on behalf of 13 of the nation's leading social scientists in the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

The Fisher case was brought by a white student who challenges her denial of admission to UT in 2008 under an admissions policy that considers many different criteria, including: leadership qualities, extracurricular activities, awards, work experience, community service, family and school socio-economic status, and race. UT's policy takes into consideration the race environment background of any applicant, including a white student, based on his or her unique life experience.

After Fisher filed her lawsuit in 2008, a federal judge ruled against her in 2009. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last year unanimously ruled against Fisher and upheld the constitutionality of UT's admissions policy, saying it is consistent with a previous Supreme Court decision that diversity is a compelling interest for public universities and that race can be used as a factor in admissions. Fisher appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in October 2012.

The Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati pro bono team that helped to prepare the brief includes David Berger, Elizabeth Saunders, Lisa Davis, Ro Khanna, and Savith Iyengar.

To read the Equal Justice Society's press release and download the brief, please click here.